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Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP) has fielded a transgender, Gulshan Bindu, as its official mayoral candidate from Ayodhya municipal corporation seat in the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh urban local bodies elections. The party this evening released its first list of seven mayoral candidates for the total 16 municipal corporation seats in UP. SP has also fielded two Muslim candidates – Yusuf Ansari and Mujahir Kidwai – from the Moradabad and Aligarh seats, respectively. Further, the party announced the candidature of Deepu Manethia Valmiki from Meerut, I S Tomar from Bareilly, Rahul Saxena from Jhansi and Rahul Gupta from Gorakhpur mayoral seat. SP spokesperson and former UP minister Rajendra Chaudhary said the list released so far has given representation to all the sections of society. "Women and traders have borne maximum insult and atrocities under the current Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) regime. Therefore, we have tried to give ample representation to these sections," he added. On Friday, the state election commission (SEC) had announced the schedule for the local bodies polls, which would be held in three phases — November 22, 26 and 29. The counting of votes would be held on December 1, 2017.
The model code of conduct has already come into force in the state.An estimated 33.2 million voters would be eligible to cast their votes for 16 municipal corporations, 198 municipal councils and 438 nagar panchayats, which amount to 652 urban local bodies. Meanwhile, the SEC has also increased the poll expenses limit of the mayoral candidates to Rs 20 lakh and Rs 25 lakh for mayoral seats comprising up to 80 wards and more than 80 wards, respectively, from the existing ceiling of Rs 12.5 lakh. For the municipal councils, the expenses limit has been fixed at Rs 8 lakh and Rs 6 lakh for the seat of chairman and members, respectively. For the nagar panchayats, the expenses limit has been set at Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 30,000 for the post of chairman and members, respectively. The coming polls are an acid test for the ruling BJP since it controls most of the urban local bodies in UP. Over the past few months, the ruling BJP has successfully elected UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and four of his council of ministers colleagues to the UP Vidhan Parishad, where indirect voting takes place by legislators. Besides, the ruling party and the Yogi dispensation had ensured that the party’s presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind secured more votes than what BJP lawmakers comprised in the state electoral college. However, the local bodies polls would be the first direct polls with Yogi at the helm. All the major political parties had announced to contest these polls to test their preparedness for the 2019 Lok Sabha poll and to re-energise their cadres at the grassroots. This includes the SP and Congress, who had forged a pre-poll alliance in the run-up to the 2017 UP Assembly polls.